Despite most waffle irons having nonstick coatings, you’ll need to liberally grease both the top and bottom of the waffle iron with oil. If you’ve ever had the problem of a waffle sticking, it’s likely that you’ve been too stingy with the oil. Worry not; so long as your waffle iron is hot, your waffles will not be greasy. If you’re like me and have forgotten to grease the waffle iron before pouring your batter in, all is not wasted (I promise— you can see how I rectified the problem here). Using a pastry brush, grease around the sides of each waffle, and let the oil settle between the waffle and the waffle iron for about 10 seconds. Then, carefully lift the waffles out of the iron and all should be well in the world!
What’s more reassuring is when you sit down to tuck-in and the waffles are still crisp and warm. In my experience, a moderately warm oven can be helpful in maintaining ultimate crispness, but only in small batches. Large batches can end up unappetizingly rock-hard because they can overcook from the heat of the oven. A better approach to all of this is to toss the freshly made waffles— one at a time— back and forth between your hands. This essentially helps release any steam and allows for divine crispness. However, for another approach to this, I’ve some more tips.
We rigorously tested the top 12 models ranging in price from $20 to $125 (at the time of testing) to find you the ones that consistently make the best waffles—ones that are crisp and golden on the outside while still fluffy and moist on the inside, ready to mop up country gravy, runny yolks, or warm maple syrup. We want waffle irons that reheat quickly so you can feed a crowd. We also want ones that are easy to clean, store, and operate. Because waffle irons are bonus, luxury appliances, we’ve found winners that we’re confident are worth the splurge (and counter space)—tools you’ll want to reach for any time of day. For those who don’t want to spend a lot, we’ve also picked our favorite budget models; they don’t work quite as well, but, with bonus features like removable plates for easy cleaning, we think they’re worth considering.
By the mid-16th century, there were signs of waffles' mounting French popularity. Francois I, king from 1494–1547, of whom it was said les aimait beacoup (loved them a lot), had a set of waffle irons cast in pure silver. His successor, Charles IX enacted the first waffle legislation in 1560, in response to a series of quarrels and fights that had been breaking out between the oublieurs. They were required "d'être au moins à la distance de deux toises l'un de l'autre. " (to be no less than 4 yards from one to the other).
While the waffle iron heats up, use one of our electric mixers to prepare the batter, then pour it into a preheated waffle maker from our product lineup. Make sure to follow the operating directions for using the device, and then turn out golden-brown waffles, waffle cones or pizelles. Then, just serve the hot, fresh waffles with favorite toppings, such as syrup or berries. Scoop ice cream or gelato into warm newly-baked waffle cones, or fill cannolis from the pizelle maker with creamy filling for a rich dessert.
The best waffles are obtained by using yeast for the dough. You can also use self-raising flour or baking powder, but the result is not as tasty. Alas, waffles with yeast cannot be stored for longer than one or two days. You should eat them during the baking or as soon as possible afterwards (warm them up in the iron which was used for the baking).
A related but key feature is the ability to control the temperature of the waffle iron since different batters cook at different rates. Machines that only operate at one pre-set temperature are likely to under-cook or over-cook your waffles – and as you probably know from experience, it’s next-to-impossible to continually check your waffles as they cook without ruining them.
By the early 20th century, waffle recipes became rare in recipe books, and only 29 professional waffle craftsmen, the oublieurs, remained in Paris. Waffles were shifting from a predominately street-vendor-based product to an increasingly homemade product, aided by the 1918 introduction of GE's first electric commercial waffle maker. By the mid-1930s, dry pancake/waffle mix had been marketed by a number of companies, including Aunt Jemima, Bisquick, and a team of three brothers from San Jose, Calif. – the Dorsas. It is the Dorsas who would go on to innovate commercial production of frozen waffles, which they began selling under the name "Eggo" in 1953. Manufacturers are now testing the production of waffles with potato starch, which increase the stability of the waffle and protect them from sticking to the iron.
Oil is best for making these; butter just won’t cut it. If you’ve the time to make clarified butter, it works well here. For those of us that haven’t the time to do so for a batch of waffles, feel free to use any neutral-tasting oil. I used sunflower oil, but vegetable, canola, etc. would work well too. For a bit of flavor, coconut oil is a great option.
There's no easy way to say this: the real revelation of this test was just how mediocre most waffle irons are. But at least they were consistent in the ways in which they were mediocre! Far and away, the most common problem was one of uneven cooking, or what I like to call the "two-face" effect: waffles that emerged from the iron evenly browned on one side but pale and doughy on the other. It is not a good look.
What we liked: The Cuisinart waffle maker was the hottest of all the irons we tested, making waffles in just over three minutes. The waffles it produced were light and fluffy on the inside, with a delicate and crisp crust. They had deep divots for holding lots of syrup and butter, and a traditional round shape. Because the iron gets so hot, the adjustable temperature is actually a useful feature, unlike on most of the other waffle irons we tested.
There are a zillion waffle irons. I own a bunch of them, but my favorite is the Manning-Bowman "Twin-O-Matic" both because of its unusual design and the way that it implicitly fosters "togetherness." The "twin" was designed by Karl Ratliff explicitly for the 1939 NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR. The Twin is a direct descendant of Mr. Cole's design but with an added Art Deco zest. This unique design won world awards and is the ONLY waffle iron shown in Tony Fusco's noted "ART DECO" BOOK, Volumes 1 and 2. It consists of 2 pieces: a double TOP/BOTTOM Waffle Iron derived from the Coles patent (above) and a circular chrome plated "trunion mount" that has 2 heavy Bakelite Cradles to support the irons. It is somewhat unique because it has both a Thermometer and a Thermostat.
With its large cooking surface, the affordable Krups waffle maker is the best for feeding a crowd on a budget. It has a large enough capacity to make four waffles at a time, but still tucks away easily, with locked handles for upright storage and a cord that coils away underneath. The removable plates are dishwasher-safe, making cleanup quick and easy.
Among the slaves, whose cuisine was based almost entirely on the scraps left behind by landowners and plantation families, poultry was a rare delicacy. Similarly, waffles were unusual, expensive and time-consuming, and hence exotic. As a result, chicken and waffles came to be a special-occasion meal in African American families, often supplying a hearty Sunday morning meal before a long day in church.
We also tested the flip model from Hamilton Beach, the Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker. It has a drip tray and removable plates for easy cleanup, and, although this unit is larger, the handle folds in for easier storage. Similar to the other Hamilton Beach model, though, this unit did not heat up well, which led to sticking and dense waffles.
Our second budget pick, the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Waffle Maker (26009), is another compact, good-for-small-apartments machine that makes consistently excellent waffles. It produces waffles more like those of our winner: thick, Belgian-style, with a crisp crust and a tender interior. Like the Cuisinart WMR-CA, however, this Hamilton Beach model tends to cost less than $30 but also feels somewhat cheaply made.
Brian, I am so glad I’m not alone in regards to the chaos in the kitchen! You most definitely need to get on the waffle iron flow. I totally understand why you don’t have one, though! There’s so much food one can consume and often there’s no time to make the same recipes over and over again each week. The waffle iron is definitely a piece of equipment that won’t get a ton of love compared to a stand mixer or a food processor, though I highly recommend getting a good one that’s inexpensive (got mine for $20 when it was on sale on Amazon); you’ll have some good waffle moments with it. Even non-waffle recipes would be fun to try in one!
Today there are many (many!) Belgian waffle makers on the market. We set out to find the best one by making hundreds of waffles and by going the extra waffle-making mile by consulting a postdoc in MIT’s mechanical engineering program to learn the basic thermodynamic principles at work in waffle irons. After a month of waffles for breakfast and for lunch, we had a solid winner—an iron that made picture-perfect Belgian waffles, two at a time, in under 5 minutes.
Finally, be aware that if you're getting so-so results from a waffle maker that usually draws rave reviews, the problem might be your batter instead of the machine. Users who substitute pancake batter for waffle batter quickly find out that there is, indeed, a difference between the two. Pancake batter in a waffle iron generally produces a heavy, dense mess that'll stick to the waffle iron like glue, and users warn that some "waffle recipes" found on the back of pancake mix boxes don't do much better. If you're into creative pancake making, you'll do better cooking them on a stovetop skillet or electric skillet, both of which we cover in separate reports.
The Presto FlipSide 3510 Belgian Waffle Maker draws an unqualified recommendation and Best Buy designation from a professional test kitchen. Thousands of happy owners agree, saying it makes the best waffles they've ever eaten and does so consistently, waffle after waffle. The 3510 is small enough for even the tiniest kitchen, and includes a nice array of features that make it very simple to use. Durability is another plus, with some owners reporting they've had theirs for years.
When it comes to making American-style waffles there's no question: the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker (Est. $30) is the winner by a landslide, drawing hundreds of enthusiastic user reviews and kudos from experts like Your Best Digs, Wirecutter and Good Housekeeping. The Cuisinart waffle iron turns out one waffle at a time, with five doneness settings to choose from and indicator lights that tell you when it's ready for batter and when the waffle is done.
Flip or stationary? Once you’ve chosen between Belgian or American-style waffles, the next step is to determine if you want the assistance of a flip mechanism. Without flipping over the irons, you’re relying on the rising agent in your batter (or just over-filling your waffle maker) to quickly and evenly fill the top plate. The flip mechanism ensures even distribution for more consistent waffles. They take up more space vertically, but in the storage position they’re actually pretty manageable.
A previous version of this guide was written by Winnie Yang, who is now a Wirecutter editor. Yang worked in the food industry—with stints in a restaurant kitchen, cookware retail, and chocolate making—for over a decade. She was the managing editor of the print quarterly The Art of Eating and has written for that magazine as well as for Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, Saveur, and Tasting Table, among other publications.
“This sweet little baby waffle-maker is a dream. I swear, I squeal every time I pull out a perfectly made baby waffle because they are just so darn cute! Uncomplicated, easy to use and clean. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but it does the job just right. They’re the perfect Eggo size, not huge like some waffle-makers, and get perfectly crisp. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. If you’re making a lot, or want to do them quickly, I do suggest getting two, as you can only make one small(ish) waffle at a time with this.”